Researcher puts bugs to work

Oct. 8, 2002 — In high technology, the word “bug” generally signifies a problem, but now a researcher in Japan is putting bugs to constructive work, training them as nanoscale construction workers.

According to a report in the journal Nature, Tetsuo Kondo of the Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute in Ibaraki, Japan, and colleagues trained the bacterium Acetobacter xylinum to exude ribbons of cellulose at 4,000ths of a millimeter per minute.

The report said that, if extended to tougher materials, the method could prove useful for medical and other applications.

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